Batteries of the Future III: Making Lithium-Ion Batteries Safer

Diaram showing the phase shift of lithium ions
October 2007

In recent years battery failures in laptops and cell phones — many overheating, some bursting into flame — have drawn attention to one of the biggest problems posed by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries: overcharging can lead to battery failure and chemical leakages from the battery pack, and sometimes fire and personal injury.

"Electrolyte material in these batteries is highly energetic," says EETD's Guoying Chen. "It consists of lithium salts dissolved in organic solvents, and it's flammable. Often, overcharging these batteries is what causes the problem. As the battery heats up it swells, and it can burst into flame."